E09 - John Bradshaw on the Depth & Complexity of the Academy of Innovation

Episode Music Credits:  Old Love Instrumental by Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, 100% Clearance through Musicbed 

On this episode of Blending In, I’m chatting with John Bradshaw, the principal at Hemet Unified’s Academy of Innovation.  John, who was once an aspiring paleontologist, followed in the footsteps of his parents into education.  After teaching history and government for 15 years, he served as an assistant principal for several years before stepping into the role as a principal. At AOI, their mission is to “impact academic achievement, build healthy relationships, and connect with our community” through alternative educational paths.  Listen in on our chat as John shares about the broad scope and complex dimensions of blended learning models that are happening at this unique school he leads.

In our chat today, John explains the complexities of operating a K-12 school with online, hybrid, and independent learning models. Because of the unique learning models, John stressed that it is vital for teachers who work at AOI to be able to make connections and communicate well with students and their families and for the staff to be able to coordinate well with all the moving parts of their programs.  In order to ensure the programs run smoothly, John says “We talk a lot!’ He is appreciative of the unique collaborative structure that the teachers have at AOI that allow the teachers to plan for high quality instruction and make changes when needed.

John says they often end up with students who aren’t thriving in the traditional school model, so they check in often with them to see if the personalized model that they have been placed in at AOI is working for them or not; and if it’s not working, they ask, what needs to change to help this student thrive?  Teachers have accepted that “change” is a part of this school environment and are “flexible and adaptable” according to John.  

John also shared about some programs that teachers are using like Kahoot and Gimkit to connect and engage students online.  Additionally, he shared about the in-person activities that happen on Wednesdays that provide students an opportunity to interact with peers, connect with teachers, and participate in hands-on, engaging activities.  (On Episode 8, an AOI teacher and the STEAM coordinator, Gerardo Saldana chatted with me more about what happens on Wednesdays so check out that episode!).  

Principal John Bradshaw with teacher & STEAM Coordinator Gerardo Saldana during a Wednesday STEAM event!  Gerardo was featured on Episode 08 of Blending In!

John absolutely beamed with pride when sharing how the programs at AOI are able to provide access and support to some of our most vulnerable students and help them reach potentials which otherwise may have been overlooked in other educational settings.  He loves getting to work with every age of student through AOI as well, and seeing how the students in different age groups interact and support each other.  His final words of advice were essentially to not underestimate the potential of independent study programs like what is offered at AOI - this type of program isn’t for everyone, but it might just be perfect for some!

If you’d like to get in touch with John to learn more about the blended learning models at the Academy of Innovation, you can email him at jbradshaw@hemetusd.org or find him on Instagram at @jb_aoi 

Do you know an innovative educator who should be a guest on the Blending In podcast? Nominate them HERE.

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